American Airlines, Continental Airlines and United Airlines and the ATA stated in the complaint that the rules were in violation of a 2007 bilateral air transport agreement between the U.S. and EU.
The lawsuit officially was filed against the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, reports Aviation Week.
The EU’s new emissions trading system caps CO2 emissions, requiring polluters, including airlines, to purchase offsets in order to continue operating within EU airspace. Earlier this year, the UK began allowing its Environment Agency to fine UK airlines that don’t the emissions standards.
For all of the European Union, starting in 2012, CO2 emissions from aviation will be capped at the average 2004/06 levels. This will be applied to all flights arriving and departing EU airports. A group of six associations representing European airlines published a study that found airlines would have to spend over $60 billion between 2011 and 2022 buying up credits from more fuel-efficient industries to meet their quotas.
U.S. airlines argue that a flight from London to the U.S. would occur nearly exclusively outside of EU airspace.
Yet Virgin chairman Richard Branson said he is willing to pay a carbon tax on his aviation business, and he thinks other airlines should too.
Nancy Young, ATA’s Vice President of environmental affairs, told Aviation Week that “virtually all non-EU states” oppose EU’s unilateral approach to aviation emissions.
The ATA has repeatedly called for a global solution to limit aviation emissions.
The lawsuit may eventually be referred by the UK court system to the European Court of Justice, Aviation Week reported.